Hy-Vee supermarket on East Washington Avenue says it will continue to display Our Lives magazine, a free bimonthly publication that focuses on LGBT residents and issues, after it was pulled from the racks last week due to alleged complaints about its content.
Store manager Lynn Reinsch Wednesday morning called the incident a miscommunication involving an employee who did not have decision-making authority. And in an emailed statement, store director Rob Budd confirmed the store would allow Our Lives to be displayed.
"Yesterday, a copy of Our Lives magazine was dropped off at the store, and after reviewing the publication, we think it's something our customers would read and enjoy," wrote Budd. "We will be contacting the individual who dropped off the magazine to arrange delivery of it on a regular basis."
Budd also said there was some confusion with the vendor who owns and manages the racks "about which publications are supposed to be on the racks. We will sort that out with the vendor, but be assured you will be able to find Our Lives in our store."
But Patrick Farabaugh, publisher of Our Lives magazine, says he has been renting space at Hy-Vee through Rack Express for close to two years. He says he learned Tuesday from Lisa Likwarz of Rack Express that his magazine was pulled from display at Hy-Vee.
"The Hy-Vee has removed your publication from our rack," Likwarz wrote to Farabaugh. "The store manager stopped me last week and said he was receiving complaints about it so they took it out of the rack and removed the label."
Likwarz said the manager did not provide further details. She also told Farabaugh this was the first time she had ever received any complaints about the publication.
Farabaugh says he called Hy-Vee's Madison store Tuesday and was put through to Reinsch, who said he was not familiar with Our Lives magazine. Farabaugh said he would bring a copy over and meet with him, but when he arrived he was told Reinsch was unavailable. Farabaugh says he left the magazine along with his contact information but did not hear back that day.
A Facebook post by Farabaugh (republished on the Our Lives Facebook page) saying Our Lives had been pulled from Hy-Vee spurred dozens of comments, calls to the store and threats of boycotts. Hy-Vee subsequently issued a statement on the matter, in turn reposted on Facebook by the magazine.
Farabaugh, who has been publishing Our Lives since 2007, says about 3,000 copies of his magazine are distributed in approximately 100 racks around the city and another 3,000 or so are mailed to subscribers.
Farabaugh says the goal of his magazine is to "make visible and promote LGBT role models and leaders."
"Often we're a community that, unless we get the rainbow pride flag stamped on us, we're invisible."